Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-12-13



BOOKS Lesbian co-author discusses 'No More Police: A Case for Abolition'
by Angelique Smith

This article shared 2779 times since Tue Oct 18, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

"We don't need all the answers to start down the road toward where we want to go: a world where everyone has safety, food, clean water, shelter, education, health, art, beauty, and rest."—No More Police: A Case for Abolition.

No More Police is a lot of things—a foundational guide that's not afraid to ask questions, a resource hub, a narrative changer, an exploration of the long legacy of abolition. But, most of all, it is a compelling call to action that takes the most frequently asked questions and tensions around abolition and breaks them down.

Written by nationally recognized policing and criminalization expert Andrea J. Ritchie and best-selling author Mariame Kaba, the book flowed from their work as co-founders of Interrupting Criminalization ( ), an initiative created to fight the over-criminalization of women, girls, trans individuals and gender nonconforming people of color.

Windy City Times spoke with Ritchie, a Black lesbian and former Chicago resident who is also a survivor of state and personal violence.

Windy City Times: What led you to create this book with co-author Mariame Kaba?

Andrea J. Ritchie: In 2020, the demands to defund the police were gaining traction following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. There was also a lot of confusion being sown by politicians and policymakers around what the demand really was, "Well, they don't really mean completely cut the whole budget! They just mean that if everyone else's budget is being cut, then we should also cut the police budget."

WCT: There still seems to be confusion.

AJR: There's been this effort to manage the demand and repackage it, so Mariame wrote a piece for the New York Times ( ) that said, "Yes, we really do want to abolish the police."

WCT: What does abolition look like through a Black, queer and trans feminist lens?

AJR: For me, it's a world where Black women, queer and trans people have everything they need to survive and thrive without policing, surveillance, punishment, or exile in any form. When we think about people who are living at the intersections of multiple structures of oppression, the premise of Black feminism will produce increased safety for everyone.

WCT: Right.

AJR: I also want to lift up another Black feminist, Erin Miles Cloud, who said it in a way that continues to capture it for me: "Everyone cares about someone's safety somewhere some of the time. Abolitionists care about everyone's safety everywhere all of the time."

WCT: And what does that mean to you?

AJR: That means we care about Black trans women's safety when Black trans women are facing some of the highest levels of violence in the country. That means we care about Black women's safety when Black women are experiencing the highest levels of every kind of violence: economic, medical, certainly community violence and, by some measures, police violence.

WCT: The book talks about how the current notion of public safety depends on sexual and gendered order; how that regulation is a way of enforcing a white, middle class, heteronormative, ableist standard of living as a condition of social acceptance.

AJR: It's so apparent in this moment where there are attacks on trans young people accessing gender-affirming care, space to play sports, to use the bathroom or locker room. Attacks on books that reference the existence of queer and trans people, queer story hours in libraries. There's this notion that gender nonconformity is in of itself a threat to public safety, such that the very presence and existence of trans and gender non-conforming youth is criminalized.

WCT: Tell us how that ties into defunding the police?

AJR: [Queer liberation] is not possible as long as we have policing, surveillance, and punishment, because it is being deployed to police the borders of the gender binary and the borders around what's deemed normative or acceptable ways of loving, being and experiencing pleasure.

WCT: Can you talk about crime as a construct?

AJR: So many of us normalize the notion of crime. We might disagree with certain things being criminalized like weed or public sex, right? We might disagree with the way things are criminalized in discriminatory ways like Black folks being stopped more for traffic offenses. But we don't often question the premise that the state gets to decide which conduct — by who, when, and how — will be punished.

WCT: And that it's often arbitrary—or worse, not.

AJR: We tend to think, well maybe not drugs, maybe not things that are criminalized that are connected to poverty, but surely something like murder. Murder should absolutely be a crime. Well, it's not now for everybody, right? If the president sends a drone over to Yemen and murders hundreds of people, that's not even considered anything but an act of patriotism and a "natural" thing that presidents do.

WCT: Right.

AJR: There's no concept that that's a crime. Cops kill people every day and it's not criminalized. Some people are allowed to act in self-defense and it's not criminalized, but when survivors who experience tremendous amounts of violence defend themselves when no one else will or despite multiple calls for help…

WCT: Then that gets criminalized.

AJR: We have to look at all the things that the state is regulating and punishing and recognize that it's not just about whether there're criminal laws and how they're enforced; it's actually a process of criminalizing groups of people. And then, you can use any law to do it.

WCT: What is one perpetual myth about policing that needs to be put to rest?

AJR: The notion that public safety can be achieved through policing. It just cannot. If it were true, as a country that pours hundreds of billions into policing every year, we would not be experiencing the rates of violence and harm that we do experience. It loots resources from the things that we do actually need to be safe. Forty percent of Chicago's budget goes to cops and that's why we don't have housing we need for unhoused neighbors or support for people with unmet mental health needs, etc.

WCT: If you go by recent media reports, particularly when it comes to Chicago, it would seem that we're in a crime wave.

AJR: What gets reported as crime is more about the political interests it serves than any kind of measure of actual violence or harm. Many things that are violent and harmful are not criminalized, like environmental destruction, wage theft, taking pandemic relief funds and giving them to police instead of to people who need them.

WCT: Thinking about the water in Flint or asset-forfeiture abuse.

AJR: [If] I smoke a blunt on the sidewalk it's not harming anyone in that moment, but in many places that would be criminalized. Things that are framed as nuisances or disorderly, like sitting on a sidewalk when you have nowhere else to sit, etc. Crime stats really aren't an accurate measure of harm and violence, they're a measure of what the state is focusing its energy on through punishing people.

WCT: Again, crime as a construct.

AJR: Crime stats are controlled by cops; the people who produce [the stats] have an interest in what they say, right? And cops have been shown to manipulate them up and down based on whatever their interest is: they want to show that they're doing a good job then they're going to clear a bunch of cases or charge them as lower offenses to make it look like crime is down. If feeling threatened — and they have definitely experienced this sort of deep challenge to their legitimacy in the last couple of years — they're going to come up with numbers that make it look like any challenge to their legitimacy is potentially deadly for all of us.

WCT: With no checks and balances.

AJR: No one checks them. They say homicides are up, are we asking the coroners if that's actually true? Are we asking what even counts as a homicide, which depends on the cops themselves and whether they charge it as a homicide or an accidental death? It also depends on the conditions under which you live. When Chicago didn't have a trauma center on the South side, many things became homicides because it took an hour to get to a trauma center. There're so many factors at play that don't get considered.

WCT: The complexities are rarely mentioned.

AJR: I don't want to deny that there's deadly violence in Chicago, especially not to the families and people who've been affected by violence. We certainly need to look at it, I just don't know that we need to look at it through the eyes of the police and the state who would just as quickly criminalize certain people, lock them up and throw away the key.

WCT: We have a collective carceral mindset.

AJR: We need to look at the violence through the perspective of what would actually prevent this from happening and there's so much evidence that just giving people the things they need to survive reduces violence. One of the ways to change those conditions is making sure people have what they need: housing, income, making sure people have access to ways of being part of their community, making sure people have education that's enlivening, nourishing and creates a sense of possibility.

Purchase No More Police: A Case for Abolition through The New Press at .

This article shared 2779 times since Tue Oct 18, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Out and Aging
Presented By


Gay News

Gerber/Hart Library and Archives holds third annual Spring Soiree benefit
Gerber/Hart Library and Archives (Gerber/Hart) hosted the "Courage in Community: The Gerber/ Hart Spring Soiree" event April 18 at Sidetrack, marking the everyday and extraordinary intrepidness of the entire LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

BOOKS Frank Bruni gets political in 'The Age of Grievance'
In The Age of Grievance, longtime New York Times columnist and best-selling author Frank Bruni analyzes the ways in which grievance has come to define our current culture and politics, on both the right and left. ...

Gay News

Morrison to run for Cook County clerk (UPDATED)
Openly gay Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison has decided to run for the Cook County clerk position that opened following Karen Yarbrough's death, according to Politico Illinois Playbook. Playbook added that Morrison also wants to run ...

Gay News

Women & Children First marks its 45th anniversary
By Tatiana Walk-Morris - It has been about 45 years since Ann Christophersen and Linda Bubon co-founded the Women & Children First bookstore in 1979. In its early days, the two were earning their English degrees at the University of ...

Gay News

UK's NHS releases trans youth report; JK Rowling chimes in
An independent report issued by the UK's National Health Service (NHS) declared that children seeking gender care are being let down, The Independent reported. The report—published on April 10 and led by pediatrician and former Royal ...

Gay News

Judith Butler focuses on perceptions of gender at Chicago Humanities Festival talk
In an hour-long program filled with dry humor—not to mention lots of audience laughter—philosopher, scholar and activist Judith Butler (they/them) spoke in depth on their new book at Music Box Theatre, 3733 N. Southport Ave., on ...

Gay News

NATIONAL mpox, Trans+ Day of Visibility, police items, Best Buy, Gentili's death
The CDC has concluded that mpox cases are on the rise in the United States, increasing to almost double what they were at the same time last year, according to ABC News. There is a national year-to-date estimate of 511 cases ...

Gay News

Kara Swisher talks truth, power in tech at Chicago Humanities event
Lesbian author, award-winning journalist and podcast host Kara Swisher spoke about truth and power in the tech industry through the lens of her most recent book, Burn Book: A Tech Love Story, March 21 at First ...

Gay News

Family of 2004 murder victim holds event in Lake View; reward announced
The year 2004, for the family and friends of Lake View resident Kevin Clewer, will forever be marked by tragedy. On March 24 of that year, Clewer, 31, was found in his apartment at 3444 N. Elaine Pl.; he was the ...

Gay News

THEATER Chicago's City Lit has anxiety on tap with 'Two Hours in a Bar'
Two Hours in a Bar Waiting for Tina Meyer by Kristine Thatcher with material by Larry Shue Text Me by Kingsley Day (Book, Music and Lyrics). At: City Lit Theater, 1020 W. Bryn Mawr Ave.. Tickets: ...

Gay News

RuPaul finds 'Hidden Meanings' in new memoir
RuPaul Andre Charles made a rare Chicago appearance for a book tour on March 12 at The Vic Theatre, 3145 N. Sheffield Ave. Presented by National Public Radio station WBEZ 91.5 FM, the talk coincided with ...

Gay News

NATIONAL Altercation, mpox research, Univ. of Fla., George Santos, tech battle
Video footage uploaded to Facebook showed an altercation between a state trooper and two prominent Philadelphia LGBTQ+ leaders, the Washington Blade reported, republishing an article from Philadelphia Gay News. Celena ...

Gay News

Without compromise: Holly Baggett explores lives of iconoclasts Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap
Jane Heap (1883-1964) and Margaret Anderson (1886-1973), each of them a native Midwesterner, woman of letters and iconoclast, had a profound influence on literary culture in both America and Europe in the early 20th Century. Heap ...

Gay News

There she goes again: Author Alison Cochrun discusses writing journey
By Carrie Maxwell When Alison Cochrun began writing her first queer romance novel in 2019, she had no idea it would change the course of her entire life. Cochrun, who spent 11 years as a high ...

Gay News

Theater Review: Billy Elliot, The Musical
Book and Lyrics: Lee Hall; Music: Elton John. At: Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora Tickets: 630-896-6666 or; $28-$79. Runs through March 24 Billy Elliot: The Musical may nearly be two decades old, but ...


Copyright © 2024 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.

All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.